Contango is a Houston-based, independent natural gas and oil company. The Company’s business is to explore, develop, produce and acquire natural gas and oil properties primarily offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Contango Operators, Inc. (“COI”), our wholly-owned subsidiary, acts as operator on certain offshore prospects.
Our exploration strategy is predicated upon two core beliefs: (1) that the only competitive advantage in the commodity-based natural gas and oil business is to be among the lowest cost producers and (2) that virtually all the exploration and production industry’s value creation occurs through the drilling of successful exploratory wells. As a result, our business strategy includes the following elements:
Funding exploration prospects generated by Juneau Exploration, L.P., our alliance partner. We depend totally upon our alliance partner, Juneau Exploration, L.P. (“JEX”), for prospect generation expertise. JEX is experienced and has a successful track record in exploration.
Using our limited capital availability to increase our reward/risk potential on selective prospects. We have concentrated our risk investment capital in our offshore Gulf of Mexico prospects. Exploration prospects are inherently risky as they require large amounts of capital with no guarantee of success. COI drills and operates our offshore prospects. Should we be successful in any of our offshore prospects, we will have the opportunity to spend significantly more capital to complete development and bring the discovery to producing status.
Operating in the Gulf of Mexico. COI was formed for the purpose of drilling and operating exploration wells in the Gulf of Mexico. While the Company has historically drilled turnkey wells, adverse weather conditions as well as difficulties encountered while drilling our offshore wells could cause our contracts to come off turnkey and thus lead to significantly higher drilling costs.
Sale of proved properties. From time-to-time as part of our business strategy, we have sold and in the future expect to continue to sell some or a substantial portion of our proved reserves and assets to capture current value, using the sales proceeds to further our offshore exploration activities. Since its inception, the Company has sold approximately $484 million worth of natural gas and oil properties, and views periodic reserve sales as an opportunity to capture value, reduce reserve and price risk, and as a source of funds for potentially higher rate of return natural gas and oil exploration opportunities.
Controlling general and administrative and geological and geophysical costs. Our goal is to be among the most efficient in the industry in revenue and profit per employee and among the lowest in general and administrative costs. We plan to continue outsourcing our geological, geophysical, and reservoir engineering and land functions, and partnering with cost efficient operators. We have seven employees.
Structuring transactions to share risk. JEX, our alliance partner, shares in the upfront costs and the risk of our exploration prospects.
Structuring incentives to drive behavior. We believe that equity ownership aligns the interests of our employees and stockholders. Our directors and executive officers beneficially own or have voting control over approximately 24% of our common stock.
Marketing and Pricing
The Company currently derives its revenue principally from the sale of natural gas and oil. As a result, the Company’s revenues are determined, to a large degree, by prevailing natural gas and oil prices. The Company currently sells its natural gas and oil on the open market at prevailing market prices. Market prices are dictated by supply and demand, and the Company cannot predict or control the price it receives for its natural gas and oil. The Company has outsourced the marketing of its offshore natural gas and oil production volume to a privately-held third party marketing firm. The Company has a policy not to hedge its natural gas and oil production.
Price decreases would adversely affect our revenues, profits and the value of our proved reserves. Historically, the prices received for natural gas and oil have fluctuated widely. Among the factors that can cause these fluctuations are:
•The domestic and foreign supply of natural gas and oil
•Overall economic conditions
•The level of consumer product demand
•Adverse weather conditions and natural disasters
•The price and availability of competitive fuels such as heating oil and coal
•Political conditions in the Middle East and other natural gas and oil producing regions
•The level of LNG imports
•Domestic and foreign governmental regulations
•Potential price controls and special taxes.
We have seven employees, all of whom are full time. We use the services of independent consultants and contractors to perform various professional services, including reservoir engineering, land, legal, environmental and tax services. We are dependent on JEX for prospect generation, evaluation and prospect leasing. As a working interest owner, we rely on outside operators to drill, produce and market our natural gas and oil for our onshore prospects and certain offshore prospects where we are a non-operator. In the offshore prospects where we are the operator, we rely on a turn-key contractor to drill and rely on independent contractors to produce and market our natural gas and oil. In addition, we utilize the services of independent contractors to perform field and on-site drilling and production operation services and independent third party engineering firms to calculate our reserves.